A tidy, light-filled office space with text that reads "Going Back to the Office"

Four years removed from the world-changing pandemic, the workforce is now at a point where there’s a shift taking place. More and more companies are having their employees come back into the office on a more regular basis. The days of working remotely five days a week seem to be behind us.

With that in mind, no matter what the new landscape of in-office work looks like for you, you’re probably about to get your  workspace back. So, say so long to those comfy, cozy pajamas, slide back into office clothes, and let your friends at Ocean State Job Lot give you a few tips to make this transition an easier one.

An office desk with a laptop covered in notes, clutter and trash.

Clearing the Clutter

One of the first things you’ll want to do is find out how much space you’ll have to work with. Will it be the same desk that you are using now, one that will be used  just a few days a week, or a brand-new space designated specifically just for you? That will be an important distinction in that there could be a size difference.

It will also give you a clear distinction into how much stuff you might have to get rid of at your workspace. If you’re downsizing, it’s time to put some stuff in storage or get rid of it entirely. If you’re either staying with the same amount of space or gaining some, it may be the opportunity to reorganize and start to declutter your day.

Start with a Clean Slate

Either way, ask the questions to your direct superior to discover what exactly you’re getting. Also ask if it’s an open floor sitting model or traditional cubicle setting. That could decide where you hang or store things. Here’s a few things to consider:   

  • Camera
  • Chair
  • Computer
  • Desk
  • Docking Station
  • File Cabinet
  • Privacy Space
  • Shelves

Decluttering Essentials

Take a look at what you use on a daily basis. Are you hoarding? Are you worried that you might miss something you throw away? It could be as simple as not keeping as much of your essentials in stock in your work area as you do right now. No one likes to continuously restock, but it might help you declutter the area and clear up some space that could be better used otherwise.

A neatly organized desk with some personal touches like plants, a drawing mannequin, and a contemporary desk lamp.

Personalizing Your Space

Your workspace isn’t just a reflection of where you’re working, it very quickly becomes a story about who you are and a reflection of your personality. It tells a story about you, your life, your family, and everything around it. With that in mind, have a little fun and absolutely make your space your own. That means having pictures on your desk with frames that you can get in many sizes at Ocean State Job Lot.

Add Personal Touches

Traditionally, desks have been filled with collections of pictures of friends, family, or maybe even pets. Make yourself the bright light of the office and have a candy dish on your desk. You might want to post a note saying to only take one at a time or you might run out fast. Also, let it be known that you’ll accept candies to restock the dish to help the cause. Let everyone feel included in the fun. It’ll help ease the atmosphere of being back in the office.

You could also think about adding a quote on a board either on the wall or on your desk. It could speak or give a voice to who you are as a person as people walk by your desk. Adding character could give your work personality some depth, or possibly even a few talking points too!

Don’t forget, things might get chilly in the office at times, so have that sweater or blanket hanging close by. Keep an extra coffee mug or water bottle too. You know you’re always going to lose one when you need it the most.

A work desk pictured from above organized for optimism.

Organizing Your Workspace

No one likes a messy workspace. Not the person working at it, the person next to it, nor the boss that has to walk by it every day. Keep that in mind as you return to the office. An organized desk is a reflection of how you work. Show your coworkers that you have it together!

Designate Zones

Think about your desk like this: someone who comes in and needs to find something at your desk should be able to fairly easily. There shouldn’t just be piles of papers and spreadsheets stacked on top of each other. Having zones just means that there will be certain things in certain areas. In boxes, out boxes, binders – a full organizational system – will help.

Optimize Your Desk Layout

As you head back into the office for a more regular schedule, you’ll want to stock up on your weekly regulars. Stock your desk with basic office supplies like pens, pencils, markers, paper, and sticky notes that sat in your top drawer or in those storage containers at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. Don’t forget that daily planner that you love so much that you would be SO lost without. Heck, you might even start missing the moments in your life that you can’t afford to not attend.

You always had a few snacks hidden in your desk somewhere so that you could make it through those afternoon blahs right? Ocean State Job Lot has just the right mix of candies, salty snacks, cookies and crackers, and nuts to give you the flavor and put a bit of a pep in your step

If it’s coffee you crave, check out our aisle after aisle of seasonal brews and tasty treats that will keep your mouth watering with so many flavors for days.

Leave a spot for your water bottle, too! That’ll help balance out the caffeine intake for the day and keep you on point.

A person removes a file from a shelf of neatly organized files.

Utilizing Vertical Space

Don’t just look across your desk when you think about using your space. Take a look to your left, right, up, and down. There may be places that you add some depth vertically to where you work. Try to take a walk toward your desk and see if there might be some space that’s unused and can be used vertically.

Install Shelves and Hooks

As you look at going up and down your work area, let’s start with your printer, scanner, or electronics. They don’t alway have to sit on your desk, taking up valuable space. Think of installing a shelf right next to your desk where you can simply stand up to get your printouts.

Hooks, on the other hand, are great to hang simple items that are lighter. Consider items like keyboard wipes, headphones, etc. Everyday, useful things that you could have nearby should be considered and be added with a simple extension.

Use Wall Organizers

Having a calendar, either hanging up on the wall or lying on your desk to keep track of all your important appointments, will help visualize those key dates in more than one place than just your computer’s calendar. It also might remind your coworkers of other key office dates.

USB cables connected and managed with various devices.

Managing Cables and Electronics

Here’s a major one for you. Make sure you have all the necessary things you need to complete your job. Of course, that means your computer, but also having the necessary programs on that computer to maximize your productivity.

Tame Your Cables

You can keep your area clean and clear of any extra cables, including USB cords and phone chargers, by having them wrapped concisely. Your IT department might be helpful there, if possible. Doing this will avoid anyone pulling on the cords, possibly dragging the equipment down off the desk, or cutting the cords in any manner.

A stack of neatly organized colorful file folders and a highlighter.

Maintaining Your Organized Space

Let’s be honest, we all get in a rut and let things get messy from time to time. Having this new opportunity might just be the spark you need to put you back on track and limit those chances to go astray again. 

Establish a Daily Cleanup Routine

Give yourself an end of the day daily routine. Keep it consistent and stick to it for a while. Set up five minutes to gather your papers in order. Go through your emails and set your morning calendar for the next morning so that you know who you’re meeting with so you’re not caught off guard.

A worker using hand sanitizer in the office.

Keeping it Clean

After spending all the time at home during the pandemic, you don’t want to forget that you are still contagious to the common cold and various other diseases. The flu and just getting sick didn’t just go away during COVID-19. Some folks like to pretend it did, but you’ll want to protect yourself.

Now, remember the days where we used to wipe every surface down and wash our hands every two seconds? We don’t have to go back to being that diligent. Every once in a while probably gets the job done. We’ve got all the right cleaners to get the job done quickly.

If you are sick, stay home. If you are working at the office, wear a mask if needed. Don’t let the stigma of wearing a mask get in the way of your own personal health or that of your family.

Have some hand sanitizer and tissues at your desk not only for you but for others. Remember, keeping yourself healthy is only half the battle. Keeping your coworkers healthy is the other. Only when you can take on both at the same time can you realistically have a chance at beating both. Putting a small note near the sanitizer might remind them to use it as they pass by your desk.

Being back in the office can be a positive. In-person meetings can once again be had and traditional conversations with idea-fostering options will begin once more. Laughter, smiles and yes, new beginnings will start once more!

Visit your local Ocean State Job Lot to fill your basket with everything you need to head back to work!

And don’t forget that desk organization works well if you are heading to college. Click here for more information on the basics of heading back to the college dorm!